Kenny Tremont Jr. is, quite simply, one of the best stock car drivers that has ever turned a wheel on a short track.
On Sunday evening, he won at Devil’s Bowl Speedway for the fourth consecutive race. The win was his 86th at the track and the 376th of his career. Tremont has won 50 track, series and state championships, and at 57 years old, he hasn’t lost a bit of his edge.
He’s a nice guy, to boot. He’s an automotive technology professor at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, New York, near his home in West Sand Lake. He’s well-spoken, polite and appreciative of the support that he receives. It’s rare to hear fans outwardly boo him, even as he wins so often.
He’s not immune to criticism, though, and he receives some for racing at Devil’s Bowl in the Sportsman Modified division.
Tremont is one of the top stars in Big Block and Small Block “358” Modified racing at places like the Lebanon Valley and Albany-Saratoga speedways — the top divisions at two of the toughest tracks in the nation. All his wins prior to 2013 had come in the big-money, big-horsepower Big Blocks and 358s. If we’re comparing apples to apples, the Sportsman division is considered the third-tier class at many New York tracks and in the DIRTcar sanctioning body, leading detractors to complain that Tremont is cherry-picking victories against lesser drivers and cheaper equipment.
Three sizeable holes get quickly punched through the hull of the anti-Sportsman boat, though: Rules, competition and longevity. There exists a theory in racing that the good drivers and good teams will win no matter what the rules are, and Tremont is the shining example in these parts.
Sportsman cars have been the headliner at New England dirt tracks for a decade, from Devil’s Bowl to Bear Ridge, and from Rumney to Canaan; Big Blocks left this area after 1984 and the 358s were gone after 2010. Tremont is well-funded with long-term sponsors, and that’s great for the divisions that thrive on cubic dollars to win races and where $50,000 engines are commonplace.
Money doesn’t matter nearly as much in the Sportsman division, though, where a fully dressed, race-ready engine costs around $6,000. By rule, every car is required to have the same “crate” engine, shipped directly from General Motors with tamper-proof seals. The crate engine is the great equalizer, and Sportsman races are won on preparation and talent.
What all fans know but some choose to ignore is that Tremont competes at Devil’s Bowl against the likes of Vince Quenneville, Hector Stratton, Jimmy Ryan, Tim LaDuc, Wayne Stearns, Ron Proctor, Adam Pierson, Frankie Hoard III, and Bobby Hackel — all drivers who have been successful in Big Block and 358 competition, almost all of them while racing against Tremont himself. And most of those drivers were racing at Devil’s Bowl against Tremont last year, holding him to just three wins.
Perhaps most importantly: The Tremonts have been racing for a very long time, and they’ve always been a part of Devil’s Bowl. Kenny was Rookie of the Year there in 1979, and his father, Ken Sr., fielded cars in the 1960s both at Devil’s Bowl and its predecessor, the long-gone Fairmont Speedway. They didn’t just luck into being good — they’ve learned and earned by racing three nights a week for more than half a century. There is a swarm of people working on the No. 115 car in the pit area, and there’s no way to replace their combined experience and knowledge. (That fact is not lost on the team, either; it’s a weekly occurrence for the Tremont bunch to help other drivers with setups, repairs or information.)
Besides all of that, Kenny Tremont Jr. has an abundance of driving skill — and watching him work from 18th place every week to win should make that obvious. He is patient and almost never over-aggressive, crashes very infrequently, and he always seems to have one of the best cars at the end of every race, no matter if it’s a quick 30-lap feature or a 200-lap marathon.
To put into perspective the type of career that he’s had, compare Tremont’s records to those of the great asphalt drivers in the region. Bobby Dragon raced for 40-plus years but only won around 150 races. Robbie Crouch was right around 100 wins, and Beaver Dragon and Norm Andrews each had a little over 50 in the same basic time frame. Gov. Phil Scott has been at it for 30 years and just two weeks ago collected his 40th win. Brian Hoar had 65 wins in 25 years of work, and last weekend Nick Sweet — in his 17th season — grabbed his 50th and 51st wins in a doubleheader sweep at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
So, just as a friendly reminder, Kenny Tremont Jr. has 376 wins and counting. Take away all 20 of his Sportsman wins in the last few years and he still has 356. The guy is good, plain and simple.
Bear Ridge Speedway — Bradford
LAST WEEK: Rained out (Saturday). THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m. with four weekly divisions running double-points Mid-Season Championship races, another makeup feature for the Four Cylinders from a previous rainout, plus the USAC Dirt Midget Association and the Granite State Mini Sprints.
Devil’s Bowl Speedway — West Haven
LAST WEEK: On Wednesday, July 3, Kenny Tremont Jr. won the Independence Day 100 for the Sportsman Modified division and Plainfield’s Will Hull took the Sprint Cars of New England race. Castleton’s Johnny Bruno was a first-time Limited Sportsman winner and West Rutland’s Scott FitzGerald beat his son Andrew for the Super Stock win. Milton’s Shawn Moquin took the Mini Stock win, Fletcher rookie Evan Roberts won the 500cc Mini Sprint race, and Ripton’s Chris Sumner won the Enduro. On Sunday, Tremont made it four consecutive wins, with Leicester’s Adam Piper winning the Limited Sportsman race. Belmont’s Josh Bussino took the two-segment Super Stock feature, P.J. Bleau won the Mini Stock race and Samantha Mulready was a first-time 500cc Mini Sprint winner. THIS WEEK: Racing is Sunday at 7 p.m., with the Sprint Cars of New England and all five weekly divisions.
Thunder Road Int’l Speedbowl — Barre
LAST WEEK: South Burlington’s Trampas Demers came out on top in Thursday’s Late Model feature, and East Burke youngster Colin Cornell was a first-time Flying Tiger winner. Hometown driver Tyler Pepin won the Street Stock race and Berlin’s Kyler Davis took his first Road Warrior win. THIS WEEK: Racing is Thursday at 7 p.m. with all three weekly divisions including the second round of the Myers Containers Flying Tiger Triple Crown Series.
Albany-Saratoga Speedway — Malta, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Brett Hearn won Friday’s DIRTcar Modified feature and Tim Hartman Jr. won the Sportsman Modified race. THIS WEEK: Racing is Friday at 7 p.m. with weekly divisions and Four Cylinders.
The ACT Late Model Tour is off until Aug. 3 at White Mountain Motorsports Park.
Claremont Speedway — Claremont, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Kyle Welch was a first-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Sportsman Modified winner on Friday and Aaron Fellows extended his unbeaten streak to eight races in the Late Model Sportsman feature. Ascutney’s Chris Riendeau won the Street Stock race. THIS WEEK: Racing is Friday at 7 p.m. with all five weekly divisions.
Fonda Speedway — Fonda, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: On Wednesday, July 3, Stewart Friesen won the Short Track Super Series Modified race, and Tim Hartman Jr. won the STSS Sportsman feature. There was no racing on Saturday. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 7 p.m. with Twin 20s for the Modified division and weekly classes.
Glen Ridge Motorsports Park — Fultonville, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Rained out (Saturday). THIS WEEK: Racing is Sunday at 5 p.m. with a Wingless Sprint Cars joining the weekly divisions.
Lebanon Valley Speedway — West Lebanon, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Rained out (Saturday). THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 5 p.m. with the annual Modified “King of the Track” event, and Sunday at 4 p.m. with the All-Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.
Monadnock Speedway — Winchester, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Louis Maher won Saturday’s Mini Stock race and Rich Hamman took the Pure Stock win before rain cancelled the rest of the event. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m. with double Street Stock features, the NHSTRA Mini Stock “Battle for the Belt” and Granite State Legends joining weekly divisions.
Plattsburgh Airborne Speedway — Plattsburgh, N.Y.
LAST WEEK: Mike Mahaney won Saturday’s DIRTcar Modified feature and Connor Cleveland won the Sportsman Modified feature. Middlebury’s Justin Stone was a first-time winner in the Novice Sportsman division. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 7 p.m. with five weekly divisions.
RumTown Speedway — Rumney, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Rained out (Saturday). THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 4 p.m. with weekly divisions and makeup features for two divisions.
Speedway 51 — Groveton, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Danville’s Derrick Calkins won Friday’s Tiger Sportsman race and Lyndonville’s Dean Switser Jr. won the Street Stock feature. Morrisville’s Mekaylah Bowen was the Daredevil youth winner. THIS WEEK: Racing is Saturday at 6 p.m. with the double-points Mid-Season Championships including a Late Model special.
White Mountain Motorsports Park — North Woodstock, N.H.
LAST WEEK: Barre’s Nick Sweet swept 100-lap Late Model races on both Friday and Saturday. Waterbury Center’s Jason Woodard won Friday’s 75-lap Flying Tiger race and Christian Laflamme won the 44-lap race, while Marshfield’s Matt Potter won Saturday’s 44-lapper. Barton’s Adam Sicard won Saturday’s Strictly Stock Mini feature. THIS WEEK: Racing at Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with the double-points Mid-Season Championships and a makeup Late Model feature from a June 29 rainout.
Justin St. Louis is a motorsports journalist, publicist, broadcaster, historian and former driver. Email: email@example.com / Twitter: @Justin_StLouis